Professional Development as Podcast

We have worked with educators over the years as staff developers, mentors, educators, school leaders, and professors here at Fordham University’s Regional Educational Technology Center, or RETC, as well as in prior roles in K-12 public education. We have realized that there’s an undeniable need for quality professional learning. We also realize that time constraints prevent those who supervise and provide professional development, or PD, from creating adequate programs. Here at the RETC we have taken on the task of discovering innovative solutions, parsing out that dilemma, and creating new options for these busy educators. Two of us, Mark Gura, educational technology author and a former director of instructional technology for the New York City Department of Education and Dr. Kathy King, director of the RETC and professor of adult education, have tapped Podcasting to establish a popular mobile learning professional development vehicle. In effect, we are offering and modeling Professional Development on Demand. By accessing our weekly podcast, teachers around the globe can "click into" timely, quality, and helpful professional development sessions on the uses of technology for teaching and learning. They can do this 24/7 based on their own schedule. What takes this beyond mere online courses though, is that this content can be listened to anywhere. Interested parties may download our Web-based broadcasts free of charge from the RETC and Techpod sites or from the numerous media/podcast directories, such as the original iTunes, Yahoo Podcasts, Podcast Alley (, iPodderX, etc. Users will listen on any computer OR transfer the material to any MP3 player, such as an iPod, an iRiver, etc. Imagine Professional Development set free of fixed location and as mobile as music has become to the iPod generation. Our weekly Techpod: Podcast for Teachers offers interviews with educators, authors, and "ed techies;" curriculum ideas; news resources; technology tips; and research that educators can use in the classroom. It’s available any time and any place: on the beach, in the supermarket, or while commuting to work. Teachers who want to be "in the know" can fit professional development into their schedules rather than having to make their schedules fit someone else’s. Is this TIVO for professional learning? Actually, it’s even better than that, because you don’t need to schedule the recording in advance. The online databases and Websites allow you to search for the topics you need, when you need them. It’s professional development on demand — a concept that puts teachers in command! Fundamental to the RETC educational philosophy is that educators are adult learners and the focus of our professional development effort is to support them by identifying and satisfying their needs. Above all, we advocate integrating technology in fundamental ways that render it capable of radically transforming teaching and learning. The icing on the cake is that through Techpod we are providing important educational technology programming far beyond our Bronx, New York campus. Beyond the conversation and interview dimension of our “grouptalk†PD series, things calculated to appeal to and capture the interest of listeners, we go considerably further to support our colleagues. The Techpod website is replete with resources much needed by a community of educators hungry for material that can help them improve their teaching through technology. The site comprehensively lists in print all resources mentioned orally in each all-important, including links. Techpod: Podcast for Teachers is truly interactive. It allows teachers to contribute by submitting their own descriptions of ed tech and podcast uses via Email, MP3 audio files, and phone calls. We review these submissions and then use them as comments on the podcast. While podcasting can involve a high-end production process, it can also be done simply and inexpensively, for most educators the most essential criteria. Determined to model simplicity and low-cost podcasting, we started off with a simple laptop computer, a $10 external microphone, free audio software and a $5 per month hosting site. The software was relatively simple: log in, click, record, click, and post. More advanced editing functions can be added later. Podcasters generally gravitate to content and sound quality editing after the very basics are mastered.

Although the technology is simple, attention must be paid to content. This critical element seems to be missing in many informal podcasts, and perhaps this is why many universities experimenting with podcasting simply record lectures, missing the bulk of the technology’s potential. Developing content requires some forethought, planning and scheduling. It also requires insight into how this new technology subtly changes the dynamics of information exchange between speaker and listener and how this must be accounted for in format. We feel, however, that the opportunity to reach educators with quality professional development at their convenience is so great that the effort to surmount these challenges will pay great dividends. Not only does Podcasting enable us to offer Techpod to a vast cadre of colleagues across an immense “Cybercampusâ€, but it allows for the tracking of how many actually tune in. Already, just three months into the project, Techpod has attracted an audience that can be counted in five figures! It would appear that this is the right technology for the right purpose at just the right moment in time. Indeed, we at Fordham University’s RETC understand that podcasting, the simple technology with the power to truly transform professional development, will figure strongly in our efforts as we continue to explore promising technologies and their applications. Live from the Bronx, it’s Techpod: Podcast for Teachers!

How to Participate in the PD on Demand?

Complete Techpod PFT Contact Information:

"Click in" and listen to the Techpod Podcast for Teachers from the RETC: Broadcast over the web — available 24/7!

Podcast FEED:

Send us your comments and examples of podcast use:
TEL “Call-in†Comments: 206-20-20-PFT

Email: Kathleen King, Mark Gura